Busfor, an online bus ticketing and distribution platform based in Kyiv (Kiev) and Moscow, has just raised $20 million from private equity funds Baring Vostok Capital Partners and Elbrus Capital.
Launched in Ukraine in 2010, the company — previously known as Gillbus — had previoulsy received financial support from Intel Capital, InVenture Partners and FinSight in 2014, and from Ukraine’s Chernovetskyi Investment Group (CIG) in 2015.
Presenting itself as “an Uber for buses, but with quality control,” Busfor aims to change what has been mostly a grey and offline market so far. “We have made it a safe way of transportation and created an online platform for it,” the company’s press service told Ukraine Digital News.
Busfor says that its website offers bus tickets to more than 300 directions served by 5,000 bus companies. The site is used by two million customers every month.
Beyond its native Ukrainian and Russian markets, Busfor now serves a variety of destination across Europe. Thus customers may purchase a ticket from Lviv (Lvov), to Warsaw for just €8 or from Prague to Madrid for €135.
Last year the company launched bus trips under its own brand.
Busfor has also entered the Thailand market, with a dedicated platform offering bus and ferry tickets between the country’s main cities and resorts.
Russian PE giants
The two funds involved in Busfor’s latest capital increase operation are major players on the Russian private equity scene. Baring Vostok is among the most established ones, having invested some $2.4 billion in nearly 70 projects in total across Russia and other former Soviet republics since 1994. In the Internet field, Baring Vostok invested in Yandex, the Russian search giant, and Ozon, a leading online retailer, at very early stages. Recently the PE firm participated in funding deals for 2GIS, an ambitious online mapping service company from Siberia and Doc+, an in house-call doctor service as well as (reportedly) French unicorn Blablacar.
Elbrus Capital is another leading Russia and CIS-focused PE business with total assets under management exceeding $1 billion. The funds advised by Elbrus Capital have portfolio companies in a variety of sectors. Among the high-tech oriented portfolio companies are document storage company OSG Records Management and B2B marketplace B2B-Center.ru. In 2014, leading jobs site HeadHunter (hh.ru), a property of Mail.ru Group, was acquired by a consortium of investors led by Elbrus Capital. In 2015, Elbrus acquired a stake in Cian Group, a major player on the Russian online realty classifieds market.